Jaron Lanier is the father of Virtual Reality, and one of the most respected technology writers in the world. He has appeared in multiple publications, including the NY Times, Wall Street Journal, Nature, Wired, Discover, and Forbes. Time magazine chose him as one of the top 100 most influential people in the world. Winner of multiple awards and honorary doctorates, he is a computer scientist, musician, and author of “Who Owns the Future?” and “You Are Not a Gadget.” His new book is a biographical reflection on AI, social media, and our connection to VR and the internet of things. “Dawn of the New Everything” is a must-read or must-hear treatise on the loss of humanity in today’s depressed, obsessed culture of online iPhone substitution for life. He says that Gamer Gate elected Trump, and the hatred for women in the gaming community is not total, but nearly so. Anyone perceived as “feminist” is a target. Fake news was created by the “alt-Right” within gaming, where guns solve all problems. (First person shooter games comprise most games. In some you can kill cops, civilians, and women on the street.) The promise of AI is being sidelined in favor of those who use it to spy and manipulate audiences for profit, often without their awareness. He says that creating an “ethical” algorithm is not possible at this point, since programs are about numbers, not feelings. So it is important for people to stop talking about the Terminator, and work to create partnerships with technology to work for good, with transparency. Get out of the bubble they want you inside in order to better sell you products and beliefs, and look around with real human eyes at real problems requiring human creativity to solve.
Can consciousness be replicated in machines? According to one scientist, it will probably happen only when we understand what consciousness is, and how creativity works. In the meantime, quote: “A meme is an idea that replicates itself in other minds.” —The Beginning of Infinity is one of the best books on science ever written. Reviewers, including the NYTimes, agree. It describes how science works, with in depth examples. On IG many post memes without knowing what they are. This is ironic, because real memes (ideas) can be both good and bad (false), and not be perceived as such by the brains in which they are replicated. This is why memes (ideas) are so powerful: false ideas spread just as fast as true, and things that are bad go viral. “Virus” is the root of “viral.” Bad ideas spread through the internet quickly, and people who believe them tend not to know how to distinguish between real and fake because the knowledge of how to distinguish truth is lacking. The bad idea that one must fight “evil” with guns or swords is viral today, just as it was in the Dark Ages. As Einstein put it, “The only thing that can defeat violence is education.” His ideas created the atomic bomb, and he wrote a letter to the president saying it was a mistake to use atomic energy for any purpose other than peace. Psychology shows that the most violent people are also the least educated. They are pawns of rich dictators or military leaders, who use them in their perverse chess games, giving them an outlet for violence…until a meme (the idea that they have been so used) goes viral, and they are overthrown. (Mugabe.) Science is “about finding BETTER EXPLANATIONS.” It is a slow process that occasional finds a breakthrough. A meme comes into existence, and goes viral. Love requires sacrifice, but should not require violence. Ignorance is not “bliss.” It is the most dangerous thing on the planet. It is always a good idea to read widely.
Saw Blade Runner 2049. Great film. Good story, but mostly a moving tribute to the original classic. Ryan Gosling is superb, and the special effects alone make the movie worth seeing. (Finally, an intelligent film after so much superhero madness and one-liners!) Never boring. Not even for narcissists with low attention span. And I didn’t see it in 3D, just standard screen. Cringed to see the giant Coke ad, but it was probably more irony than product placement. Was it a masterpiece like the director’s cut of the original with Rutger Hauer? No, but I’m not complaining. Is Harrison’s Deckard a replicant? Little chance of that. The book says no, too. There’s a bigger surprise I can’t mention. Go see it, then listen to the audiobook, which is like an audio movie. At TowerReview.com I’ve posted links to a book on how the movie was made, plus a fashion tee shirt and the bomber jacket style worn by Gosling in the film. His image appears on the link. BTW, music? No tunes to sing, but an effective and eerie original score that swells to thunder at just the right moments.